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17 Apr 2023

Argentina in talks with Naval Group, ThyssenKrupp for three submarines

Argentina in talks with Naval Group, ThyssenKrupp for three submarines
Eitan Abramovich/AFP via Getty Images
Originally posted on Defense News

Argentina is involved in “advanced negotiations” to buy three new diesel-electric submarines, according to an official report sent to the legislature last week and made public on Wednesday.

The project, with an estimated minimum cost of $1.3 billion, aims to fulfill the needs of the Argentine Navy, which has no operational submarine today.

Signed by Agustin Rossi, the chief of Argentina’s Cabinet of Ministers, the report was meant to address questions and concerns expressed by members of defense committees in both the Senate and the House of Deputies — the two chambers of the Argentine Congress.

Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Taiana previously hinted that priority would be given to acquiring submarines, but he spoke only about procuring two boats. But Rossi’s report confirms advanced discussions about acquiring the submarines took place with representatives of French shipbuilder Naval Group, and that talks are also underway with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

The report pointed out that, in both cases, the governments of France and Germany are also involved in the negotiations, as they are expected and willing to provide credits to fund an eventual order as well as serve as the contract guarantor.

According to the report, the Argentine government intends to reach an agreement on technical requirements and financial matters as well as award a contract by the end of this year. Notably, President Alberto Fernandez’s term will end in December 2023, although he can run for reelection.

Local military sources in Buenos Aires, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press, told Defense News that Naval Group is offering submersibles of the Scorpene type as well as the diesel-electric version of the newest Barracuda class.

They added that TKMS is offering boats from both the Type 209/1400 and the Type 214 classes.

While the cost of purchasing three diesel-electric submarines is said to have a minimum price of $1.3 billion, local independent analyst Luis Piñeiro said that could increase to $1.5 billion or more because of “technical requirements, equipping, and other associated costs like the acquisition of torpedoes and missiles.”

But, Piñeiro added, “to acquire new, advanced submarines would provide denial-of-sea and maritime-deterrence capacities, which are the best and fastest way to make good [on] the limitations that Argentina faces in the naval dimension today.”

After ARA San Juan — a 2,300-ton, German-built, TR-1700-class submarine — was lost in the Atlantic Ocean with all 44 crew members onboard in November 2017, the Argentine Navy was left with no operational submarine. ARA Santa Cruz, a sister ship of ARA San Juan, has been undergoing protracted refitting work since 2014.

Meanwhile, Argentina is using the ARA Salta, an older, German-built Type 209 submarine that is currently unable to navigate, for static training.

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